Inspiring Generosity


Inspiring Generosity


12/7/2016

Before and After: Your Most Important Letter of the Season
 

image by Dai Haniki @flickr.com

Don’t you just love seeing “before” and “after” photos? OK, maybe you don’t, but I do. And I guess People magazine knows people like it too. At least twice a year they run the “What They Look Like Now!” issues revealing the photos of people who have lost 100 or more pounds. And, it must be why I love watching “Property Brothers” or “Flip or Flop” (or it seriously means I have waaaaay too much time on my hands). I love transformation.
 
Well friends, last week I offered to do a “make-over” of your year-end letter following some suggested tips. And, some of you were brave enough to let me. Thank you, dear souls!
 
So this will be my very own, “People/Property Brother/Flip or Flop” before and after of a year-end letter. I want to thank Rev. Chris Schoolcraft from Argyle UMC in Argyle, Texas for his willingness to share his work with you.

The “before” letter is here:


The “after” letter is here (this is still in draft form, it will be on the church’s letterhead):

Here are three highlights of the “before” and “after” letters:
 
Number 1. Pastor Chris did a great job of incorporating the “you” in this letter. What I did was switch the first two paragraphs. I also indented, added some bolding, and an additional sentence for a stronger start to draw in the reader:
 
Before:
One of the things that the end of the year allows me and my family to do is to think back over the year and name the places of joy and growth God has brought us through.  We laugh, we cry and we give God thanks for the grace provided each day.
 
You have been such an important part of what God has been able to do at Argyle United Methodist Church. Your giving, your serving, your prayers and your presence have been a part of God’s miracle this year.

 
After:
            You have been such an important part of what God has been able to do at Argyle United Methodist Church! Your giving, your serving, your prayers and your presence have been a part of God’s miracle this year.
 
            The end of the year signals a time for my family and me to think back over the year. We love to name the places of joy and growth God has brought us through. We laugh, we cry and we give God thanks for the grace provided each day. Argyle United Methodist Church is always on the top of the list of places that have filled us with joy.


Number 2. I was happy to see that Pastor Chris actually talked about the need for a financial gift. However, the “ask” wasn’t really obvious. This happened in a couple of other letters that I reviewed as well. Don’t bury the lead (at least not too much). In addition, the letter was dense and needed some more white space. The two-page letter made it possible to create more easily- read paragraphs.
 
Before:
As you prayerfully consider your end-of-the-year giving, I hope you understand what your generosity means to our church and to our community. Because of your gift, we will be able to continue to offer Spirit-filled worship each weekend that opens hearts and souls. Your generous gift will help us to continue shaping the lives the lives of our children and students through weekly Bible studies, student-lead worship, and powerful service opportunities. By your giving, we will be able to continue to offer space for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of our community and we will be able to continue to impact some of our community’s most vulnerable people.
 
After:
            As you prayerfully consider your end-of-the-year giving, I hope you understand what your generosity means to our church and to our community.
 
            Because of your gift, we will be able to continue to offer Spirit-filled worship each weekend that opens hearts and souls.
 
            Your generous gift will help us to continue shaping the lives of our children and students through weekly Bible studies, student-lead worship, and powerful service opportunities.
 
            By your giving, we will be able to continue to offer space for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of our community and we will be able to continue to impact some of our community’s most vulnerable people.

 
Number 3. The ending is key. Don’t get bogged down in details that pull away from the emotional impact of your letter. Save that information for the P.S. And, be sure you have a P.S. because it’s often what people will read first.
 
Before:
I cannot say enough about the difference your giving makes in people’s lives. Thank you for all that you do to make our mission to “transform the world one life at a time” more than just words but a daily reality at Argyle UMC.
 
On the second page of this letter is more information that will help you in your giving. If you have any questions, feel free to contact XXX, our Chief Financial Officer, at XXX@ArgyleUMC.org.
 
I hope you have a truly Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 
Blessings,
 
Pastor Chris

 
After:
            I cannot say enough about the difference your giving makes in people’s lives. Thank you for all that you do to make our mission to transform the world one life at a time more than just words but a daily reality at Argyle UMC.
 
            It’s no wonder that as my family and I reflect on our blessings, you – the Argyle UMC family – come to mind immediately. We are truly blessed because of you.
 
            I hope you have a truly Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 
            Blessings,
 
            Pastor Chris
 
P.S. Don’t forget, you can make a year-end gift on our secure website. www.argyleumc.org/  God bless you!
 
 

Once again, many thanks to Pastor Chris for his willingness to help you write a great year-end letter. And, my offer still stands…
 
If you want a second set of eyes, this is my annual Christmas gift to you – send your letter to me and I’ll be happy to review it and give you some helpful suggestions. Send it to inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com
 
Happy writing!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” what can I say?) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Over the holidays she is totally going to binge-watch “Property Brothers.” She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
 
If someone has forwarded this to you and you would like to subscribe to "Inspiring Generosity," click here.  Miss an issue?  Click here.          
 


comments powered by Disqus

Cesie Delve Scheuermann

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.

Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ - Vitalizing the Church - Transforming the World